Fearful? Prideful? Lustful? Is your “motivator” running on an inferior fuel?
What is it that motivates you to do the things you do? Why do you work hard at school? Why do you compete hard in sports? Why do you practice so much at your hobbies (an instrument, dance, video games)? Something is motivating you to approach life in the way that you do. As I’ve had many conversations with students, I’ve found some motivators that are most common. Let’s look briefly at a couple inferior fuels, and then let’s look at the right fuel.
Inferior Fuel #1 – Fear
Fear may be the most common. So many decisions we make are motivated by fear: fear of failure, fear of parental disapproval, fear of missing out, fear of rejection of our peers, fear of not being good enough, etc. These are just a few examples. Don’t get me wrong, fear is a very powerful motivation. It can get you far; but let’s be honest, it’s destructive. It sucks the life out of you, even as it propels you forward. Or, on the other hand, it paralyzes you from taking action. This is definitely an inferior fuel. Time to check your engine. As you think about your decisions this week, are they motivated by a fear you have?
Inferior Fuel #2 – Glory
Personal reward or glory (with disregard for others) is also common. Being motivated by reward is not a bad thing. Rewards are great motivators. Certainly the current March Madness competitors are at least partially motivated by the reward of cutting down the nets after the championship game. Nothing wrong with that; but what about if in pursuing that prize, the players have a win at all costs mentality that disregards the welfare of opponents, refs, coaches, each other… that’s when things get ugly. Pride is when we make the focus ourselves. This definitely is an inferior fuel. If your pursuit of reward is tainted by a selfish disregard for others, then there’s a problem.
Inferior Fuel #3 – Lust
Lust is a very powerful motivator. Lust for pleasure causes us to act in a lot of distorted ways. We lust for all sorts of things – for food, for comfort, for power, for images, for relationships. Lust is a disordered desire. It means we desire too much of something, or we desire it in an unhealthy way, or we desire it in a way that is inconsistent with its created purpose. I don’t think I have to do much to convince you that this is an inferior fuel. During the pursuit of that which we lust after, we are very motivated, but often after we have indulged it, it can leave behind an awful feeling.
This week the One Minute Bible has been highlighting the fruit of the Spirit. The first fruit is the best motivator.
Real Fuel – Love
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” Galatians 5:22
That which the Spirit produces is love. Love is unarguably the most powerful motivator that exists. Love conquered and defeated sin and death. Jesus was held on the cross not by nails or by fear of the Roman soldiers below. He stayed on the cross even though he easily could have called 10,000 legions of angels to his rescue. What held him up there? What kept him committed to following through till the end? Love is the answer. He loved His heavenly Father and He loved you and me enough to stay. Love for God and love for others can be the most powerful fuel in our tank, and it’s the fuel our tank was meant to run on. Have you filled up? You can’t give what you haven’t received. Romans 5 tells us two things that are very relevant here. First, that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Have you embraced Jesus Christ as your Savior? Second, that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Receive that pouring today as you think of God’s love for you. Regardless of how you feel, the fact remains the same: if you know Christ as Savior, be reminded that God loves you and has poured love into your heart. Your heart will run on that fuel. That’s the fuel for loving others as yourselves.